Forks… Are we being brainwashed or not?

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  • Forks… Are we being brainwashed or not?
  • Reading a thread on Manitou forks got me thinking. There used to be loads of different brands knocking out forks, and when reviewed they all seemed to have + and – points but many were worth a look.

    Less then 10 years ago I’d have looked in to what Pace, Fox, Manitou, Marzocchi, RS, etc were selling before deciding what to get and all these were considered and available.

    Now it seems that people just go Fox if they’re minted or RS. I know from experiance that DT forks are at least as good if not better but you don’t see many about. What about the other brands? Why do you never see them? Are they rubbish now? I’d find that hard to beleive for every fork. People always seem to rate Magura’s but you don’t see them very often 😕

    Fox forks seem to be so delicate but most people want them. Are they really that much better performance wise to what else is out there or is it a fashion thing? I’m as guilty as anyone as I’ve had Fox forks turn to mince and, as stated my DT’s perform better then the Fox I’ve had but Fox would still probably be at the top of my wish list. Not a massive fan of Rock Shox but many people wouldn’t consider anything else.

    So, have we been brainwashed in to believing the marketing and because of this missing out on cheaper or better forks or is the hype justified with RS and Fox having their reputation for a reason? My brain hurts.


    Rockshox seem to be the safe/reliable option to go for. Other brands like Manitou, Marzocchi have had periods of time where there forks have been shite, they’ve suffered since.

    Fox are expensive, there are plenty of people who will go for these just because (like Apple)

    DT forks seem to be as expensive as Fox RRP but you never see them discounted, unlike Fox sand relativelt few places seem to sell them.

    The X-Fusion forks look very good value and are getting very good reviews.


    Its fashion for some but all bout the feel for other.

    Also if you have a fox fork and like it you are taking a risk buying anything else. Some folk dont like change and like to stick with what they know, but seem to forget there ounce was a time when fox or rockshock ect was new to them as a brand. Its the same with loads of things we buy not just forks.

    I’ve got Maguras and I rate them, reliable forks.


    Marzocchi had a period where they made very unreliable forks and suffered, and haven’t had the money to reinvest in the world cup sponsorship they used to. So you don’t see them any more.

    Manitou were never very good, but had a real bad patch around the mid 2000’s when the Nixon and Minute “IT” forks were launched and they made the decision not to make cheap forks like the Axel anymore that they’ve not really recovered from as the OEM market moved away. So you don’t see them anymore.

    DT Swiss are phenomenally expensive and have no OEM share and so you don’t see them.

    Magura are still quite small, and you never saw that many in the first place, and they were divey as a divey thing for a bit, so you don’t see them.

    Rockshox had a duff period in the early 2000’s, but made a very convincing recovery post buy-out by Sram, and they’re not as expensive as Fox, and they do cheap forks, and are cheap to OEM buyers, so you see loads of them.

    Fox made a massive impact when they launched, and while they are in a duff patch they seem to be still riding the coat tails of earlier success and still have a decent reputation, so you see loads of them.

    X-fusion are relatively new and not as good as RS and Fox, and you never see them discounted, so you don’t see many of them.

    Until about 2008 I was a sworn Marzocchi rider, but they had such problems then that I switched to Rockshox (who, in the early 2000’s after I had a Psylo, I said I’d never use) because Fox cost too much (and, as we now know, wear out very fast) and RS just seem to work. I’m willing to trade the less smooth feel and “riding on the spring” feel of RS for less servicing and more money in my pocket. Inbetween I had some Manitou Nixons which kept breaking, and some Magura Thors which had absolutely zero support in the midstroke. I am normally rubbish at telling the difference between forks but they were very divey even with loads of air in, to the point of making it hard to ride stuff. So Rockshox were the only affordable alternative left.

    Premier Icon Kryton57

    I’ve some 2010 120mm Fox F120 FIT on my yeti suppleid OEM – they are the only Fox fork I’ve ever had by they outclass anything I’ve ridden. But I wouldn’t pay £799 for them.

    I’ve some 2012 100mm RS Sid RLT’s on my HT which I bought for £295 (originally £499) from merlin and despite the hype / alledged mechanical longevity they don’t feel as smooth as the F120’s – but there is a £300 RRP price difference.

    I did wonder what the price differential is. Because of setup difficulty I now know whats inside the SID, and basically it isn’t much as at all. So whats inside my F120 FIT that would justify me paying as much as £300 more?

    Premier Icon ads678

    What about society forks, they seem pretty cheap, are they cheap for a reason? Anyone tried them?


    Fox seem to have the market cornered so far as what manufacturer’s fit to their bikes. That doesn’t mean everybody likes ’em.

    Personally, I wouldn’t touch Fox forks again with a barge pole!

    I have RS reba on my hardtail and have had to replace uppers on those so I’m not exactly their biggest fan either.

    For me, the only forks that have been fit for purpose (i.e. lasted more than 9 months) have been ‘zocchi RC3ti from 2010 onwards.
    44s on the Five have had only 2 oil changes and are still on original seals after >2 years of abuse. It helps that I think they’re also the best performing forks I’ve had.
    So impressed that I’ve bought 66 version too for big bike.

    Most people I ride with are looking for 2010+ ‘zocchi as first choice when their Fox $#!7£ inevitably fails.


    Ads678- They are rebranded RSTs and as such are distinctly budget.

    I’ve had Fox, Rockshox and Magura. Without a doubt the best I have ridden was the Magura but then that was a xc bike. Fox are nice and plush but you really need to keep up the maintenance, Rockshox worked well with no maintenance issues. The Maguras were excellent nice and plush when open and rigid when locked out. All functions remained fully operational, no maintenance done whatsoever for 2 years and it was pretty heavily used.


    Ease of service and accessibility of spare parts was a factor for me. I had some pace forks pre the DT takeover and it was a right PITA getting them removed and sent up country every time something went wrong. A mate had maguras and had the same problem. I’d consider any make now but there’d have to be a good reason for me not to plump for fox or rockshox when it came to parting with my hard earned.


    X-fusion are relatively new and not as good as RS and Fox, and you never see them discounted, so you don’t see many of them.

    I can see why you might think this but honestly, from experience, it’s just not true.

    Apart from being made in the same factory as Fox, and basically the same design, their internals are top quality being all CNC machined and metal, rather than plastic.

    And they perform excellently, well the Vengeance HLR I have does; easily as well as fox maybe even better. OK so they don’t have that lovely looking Kashima coating but interestingly some research was done by RS that says break away force is lower when the surface is slightly pitted (microscopically) as it allows oil to sit in the pits and act as a lubricant.

    The only things the X-Fusion line doesn’t have currently is the high price (they are about 20% cheaper on RRP so you don’t need to see them discounted) and brand recognition.


    I’ve only ever had good experiences with Fox Forks – both of my 32 Vans were ace for the money. Ridden lots in the Peaks with little or no maintenance other than cleaning them.

    I also have a pair of 05 36 RC2’s that are still in use now (they were Talas but have been converted to Vans). They still work well but are a pain to service at home.

    The early Marzocchi’s that I’ve had have always been faultless and very easy to look after. I still have a set of 2003 Z1’s on my BFe. I lost faith when I bought a pair if AM1’s..they were poo and spent more time with Windwave being fixed / waiting for a new ATA cartridge than on my bike.

    Not a big Rock Shox fan – I still haven’t forgiven them for the Psylo! The worst fork I’ve ever had, even worse than my Indy’s and Judy’s that I started with. I have had two pairs of Pikes and not liked either of them; I thought the damping was rubbish on repeated hits and packed down.

    Manitou are dire – the Blacks that I had just leaked, the Sherman with SPV damping just didn’t bother with small hits. The TPC ones weren’t too bad.

    Not experienced Magura or X Fusion.

    I will be in the market for some new forks this summer (just because) and am amazed at how much they cost. First I though about some 36 Floats but I can only afford the R’s which don’t seem to get good reviews so am coming round to the idea of a pair of Lyrik’s or possibly even a pair of X Fusion Vengance forks which are a bit cheaper and seem to get good write ups from those who have them.


    And they perform excellently, well the Vengeance HLR I have does; easily as well as fox maybe even better.

    We’ll agree to disagree on that. They are not as good as most alternatives IME, by a noticeable margin.

    I would always buy a discounted RS fork than a full price X-fusion.


    to counter the Manitou hate, the Tower Pro 29er and the QR15 axle are great

    Premier Icon mattjg

    Not brainwashed, it’s just a market at work. RS are a safe bet because people buy them. People buy them because they are a safe bet.

    Fundamental to the dominance of RS and Fox is they get their kit onto fully built bikes, presumably they have the economies of scale that they can offer the parts cheaper than anyone else to bike companies. Most people’s first bike is fully built, and then they stick with that they trust.

    riding on the spring

    I’ve never been able to put in to words why I didn’t really like my old RS Revs but that’s exactly it!

    Thanks for the replies. Seems that what the bike companies fit OEM makes a huge difference to what people then go on to buy. I guess it makes sense.

    Wonder if the problems with Fox will lead to them having a sticky patch like the others?

    The mags seem to be accused of bias towards certain brands due to advertising etc. Does this play a part?


    I had some circa 2005 Marz air forks that were ace (light and plush, a revelation at the time) but the bad press after that put me off. Cheap RS forks I had were ok but nothing special. Currently on Fox and they are very good but 8 years on from the Marz and they are no better for feel. If you think forks have got massively better in the last 8 years id say you’ve been done. Bigger/Stiffer axels aside forks are no better at their basic function now than they were years ago. (IMO)


    I’ve never been able to put in to words why I didn’t really like my old RS Revs but that’s exactly it!

    It’s actually premium, a-grade MBR review bullshit, but I thought it described it quite well.

    Premier Icon mattjg

    The mags seem to be accused of bias towards certain brands due to advertising etc. Does this play a part?

    It’s probably not quite such a direct relationship. The brands that are successful are visible in the market so are going to get reviewed. They’re also the brands big enough to spend the bucks on marketing, they also probably have good PR departments that feed the mags press releases, scoops, test units and so on.

    All this makes it pretty tough for a new entrant to get into the market, which is exactly what the established players want.

    Rob Hilton

    If you think forks have got massively better in the last 8 years id say you’ve been done

    ’06 Fox 32 qr Talas to ’11 RS 15mm Sids – a world of stiffness difference. Pretty sure it’s not all down to the axle.

    The Fox were plusherer, the Sids just work alright – I wouldn’t get very excited about them.


    The sensible money stays away from brand new whatever. Pay 1/2 price for non fox 2nd hand and only a year or so old. I realized fox were over priced rip off a few years ago. Kashima coating covering up their inability to correct the stanchion wear problem!

    ck shox and xfusion owner. My xfusion vengeance hlr are incredible forks. £300 and imo far better than mates talas 36 (which are starting to wear!)


    Brainwashed? Well, no, we all have a choice.

    I love my Magura Wotans. My experience of Fox and RS only makes me want to stick with what I’ve got. They’re about 7 years old old and are ‘as new’ so why want more? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    Fox and RS have massive marketing leverage and mountain biking seems to be very ‘label sensitive’ which I’ve never understood. I’m constantly amazed by new fork prices from the ‘Big 2’

    Should the question be “Why are so many bike riders sheep-like in their brand allegiance?” and “Why do so many bike riders switch and swap their kit so often?”

    Isn’t it about getting out and having fun rather than kit and labels?

    Premier Icon jameso

    Xfusion (or the company that owns the xfusion brand) made a lot of Fox’s stuff.


    I like the feel of fox, and the price and low maintenance of RS. Not 100% happy with either and would welcome newcomers to the fork/suspension table. I’m very interested to see what DVO come up with.


    I don’t pay enough attention to what I ride to say exactly why I think my x- fusions have felt better than the fox forks I’ve had in the past but I am ocd enough to notice that it terms of quality of finish, feel of adjusters etc fox are a long way behind and in no way warrant their premium price.


    well ive service a heap of forks over the years in bike shops and at home, seems like you dont get much for 500+ notes… (fox especially)

    but ive still got a pair of Marz Z1 BAMs on my XC bike, they are a bit weighty but easy to service and just keep on going after nearly 15 years…

    anyway spares are getting harder to get these days

    im just wondering about the possibility of putting together some ‘open source’ forks from off the shelf bits… maker style


    I’ve had plenty of Rockshox forks over the years, Dukes, Pikes (2 sets), Rebas (2 sets) & Domains.

    Most have been run for 2 years + and I have had some go wrong (Pikes blew a seal on an alpine holiday), but they had had a good few years use before they went wrong.

    I do service my forks about twice a year (myself) depending on how often they get used.

    Personally never had any of the problems which seem to plague fox forks (i.e. stanchion wear).

    I now have a couple of sets of Marzocchis (2009 66’s & 2012 55’s) – not had any notable issues with these yet.

    If I bought a new bike with a set of Fox forks then I’d sell them immediately. Sure they feel great to ride but the servicing needed to keep them running well is too frequent. I’ve seen plenty of people who’ve had stanchion wear issues with Fox, some after very short periods of ownership. Not known anyone who has actually managed to get them replaced on warranty – usually they are refused on the grounds of not meeting the service intervals.


    Rockshox my fave too. Did have a set of Fox forks for a very short while. Could never get them set up as my previous RS pikes, so sold them on.
    Seen too many fox forks with leaking seals and shiney worn stanchions to ever buy a set again.


    Jim Smith, OS forks would be a smart move but could you really put everything together for a reasonable price?


    The mags seem to be accused of bias towards certain brands due to advertising etc. Does this play a part?

    X Fusion won just about every category in the latest MBUK grouptest; nothing but Fox ads in sight.

    Personally I’m very comfortable with reasonably modern RS forks. They’re cheap and they just work, and are also easy to fix when they don’t for some reason.

    I haven’t had problems with breaking stuff or prematurely wearing things out since mid-90s forks (I think there are still a few Judy corpses lying in my old garage).

    Some of my favourite forks ever have been Manitous and Maguras though (I still have my old Magura Wotan on top of a wardrobe waiting for an appropriate project).

    I’ve had rockhox, rockshox, marzocchi, fox, rockshox…

    from a suspension point of view i was most impressed by marzocchi and fox….

    I’m currently on rockshox and underwhelmed by them – id like some x-fuion of marzocchi again just to be diffrent from fox


    The Fox service schedule gets me. Do they /really/ need to be done that often?

    (I had my Revelations TF’d and a firmer spring fitted over 3 years ago. Stored upside down, cleaned and seals lubed. Works for me).

    Do like the look of Magura forks but never tried them.


    FWIW I’ve always had Rockshox, but my next set of forks will be Marzocchi (possibly).

    I know Fox have a rep for poor reliability and short servicing intervals but I know a bunch of lads who all have Fox, give them regular hammerings, don’t service them and have reported no issues.


    Serviced my Rev’s the other weekend, bought them 2nd hand and thought it would be a good idea.

    Lowers were bone dry, as were the seal foam rings.

    No stanchion wear. 8)

    Premier Icon dannybgoode

    what is it with people thinking Fox forks have an onerous service schedule – or am I missing something.

    Looking at the Fox manual compared to the Rockshox manual (for Reba’s) they look pretty much the same…


    Danny B


    – thepodge
    re OS forks
    thats what im trying to get a handle on at the mo, the ballance of off the shelf and custom bits i think is critical. getting stuff CNC d isnt that expensive, but im sure bigger numbers would bring the price down significantly.
    What im really after at the moment is a 29er 100mm fork for bikepacking/off road touring.
    Im looking at coil + oil for bombproof reliability/field serviceable and mounts for rack/anything cage/lights.
    as far as i know theres nothing to fit that end of the market at the minute an judging by the numbers lining up for races like the great divide i reckon theres a need…


    Isn’t lowers service every 20 hours for fox, but 50 hours for RS? TBH, the process (for both) is so easy, I’m not sure why people wouldn’t bother. Especially given the concequences with Fox stanchion wear.


    I don’t bother because if I have an hour spare for a fork service, I’d rather just go and ride the damn thing.

    The reality is that Fox forks often wear themselves to death if you don’t follow the service routine, while Rock Shox just keep on going.

    Premier Icon dannybgoode

    Check and lube seals every 15 hours, change oil and float fluid every 30 hours for Fox. Nothing else mentioned.

    Check and lube seals every ride for Rockshox, speed lube oil every 25 hours, remove lowers every 50 hours and change oil in damping system every 100 hours.

    That’s looking at the 2012 manuals for both.

    Agree the consequences of not doing this may differ but if you’ve paid £££ for a some forks why not maintain them?


    Danny B

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